How SOS Children's Villages and GiveIndia are helping kids orphaned amid COVID find hope for the future
The pandemic dealt many unfortunate children across the world a crippling blow. The loss of parents meant many were suddenly left alone to battle the vagaries of life at a tender age.
Children who suddenly lost their parents to COVID are not only emotionally vulnerable and face an uncertain future; they are also at greater risk of falling victim to trafficking, exploitation, child marriage, and other social evils.
According to a study published in the medical journal The Lancet, 1.19 lakh children in India lost their parents or primary caregivers to COVID-19, with an 8.5X increase in the number of children orphaned in April alone, compared to previous months.
One of GiveIndia's NGO partners is SOS Children's Villages of India, an organisation that works for the holistic development of parentless children, and women and children belonging to vulnerable families. The charity also strives to provide accommodation, nutrition, education and counselling to the thousands of children who were orphaned and whose lives were uprooted during the pandemic.
These children were – and are - particularly susceptible to emotional trauma, neglect, abuse, and exploitation.
“Thousands of vulnerable children faced the brunt of the pandemic, which claimed the lives of both their parents, leaving them alone at risk of abuse and exploitation. Some children were abandoned by the surviving parent because they alone could bear their responsibility.
"In the midst of this, children are left without viable support from extended families who themselves are struggling to survive,” says Sumanta Kar, Secretary General, SOS Children's Villages of India.
Pic credit: GiveIndia
Raising funds for the cause
In collaboration with GiveIndia, SOS Children's Villages recently started a fundraiser to keep supporting the children in their care, and to ensure that all their basic needs, from food and shelter to education, were met.
As of October 21, 2021, multiple supporters have generously contributed Rs 15,42,470 to the cause. The organisation aims to raise more funds to keep transforming more lives for the better.
“Children at SOS Children’s Villages India dream of the life they had before the pandemic changed their lives completely. The fundraiser aims to help children abandoned or orphaned by COVID. We began when the second wave peaked and distressing stories about these children were heard,” Neha Joshi, Head- NGO Partnerships, GiveIndia.
SOS will use the funds for food and nutrition to ensure proper growth and development; medical expenses to provide essential healthcare services; educational expenses, including school fees, books and stationery; social and psychological support through counselling sessions; clothing and hygiene; and salaries to caregivers.
“GiveIndia is an online platform, so there are no geographical boundaries and neither do we restrict any fundraising collaboration based on geography. We have a robust network of 2,200+ NGOs spread across the country in almost every Indian state, union territory, and city. These NGOs partner with GiveIndia throughout the year on several opportunities, including fundraisers like for SOS Children’s Villages,” Neha says.
Caring for children over years
SOS Children’s Villages of India was established in 1964 in Faridabad near Delhi. Since then, the organisation has worked with children and communities, and in disaster-stricken and disaster-prone areas.
It has around 1,700 full-time employees across the country working on care solutions for children.
For over five decades, SOS Children’s Villages India has provided for children without parental care or at the risk of losing it, a value chain of quality care services that goes beyond childcare.
The customised care interventions include family-like care, special needs childcare, foster care, short-stay homes, family strengthening, kinship care, emergency childcare, education, and youth skilling. They aim to transform lives and make children self-reliant and contributing members of society.
Pic credit: GiveIndia
Supported by individual donors and corporates, SOS Children’s Villages claims to have reached over 30,000 children every year (over the last five decades) through their 32 SOS Children’s Villages and 32 community projects in India.
They work in 22 states/UT’s across the country - from Srinagar to Kochi and Bhuj to Shillong.
With schools reopening, the SOS team aims to focus on awareness regarding preparedness and preventing extension of gaps in children’s education. In phases, a “gradual switch back to life prior to the pandemic will be initiated”, which will include outings that were an integral and essential part of lives pre-COVID.
SOS Children’s Villages aims to reach another 3,000 children, through diverse programmes under their Basket of Care Solutions, by the end of 2021.